Department of Education head Betsy DeVos, whose achievements thus far include considering a review of campus sexual assaults to benefit the accused, ending regulations to protect student borrowers, and pushing school choice, has accepted an invitation to give a speech at the University of Baltimore's fall commencement on Dec. 18.
In a statement, university executive vice president and provost Darlene Brannigan Smith said: "Throughout our nearly 100-year history, UB has pursued a commitment to intellectual engagement and an array of opinions; this is a foundational goal at our institution and is today expressed in our invitation to the Secretary to speak to and get to know our community."
Student government president Mariame Dangnokho released a letter saying the SGA was not aware of the decision until yesterday, and that student leaders were not part of the selection process.
"We understand many of your frustrations and discontent with this invitation and are looking into how this decision was made," she wrote. "As expected, we will keep you informed as we receive updates."
In the spring, DeVos gave a commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida, and was booed and heckled. Some students turned their backs to her as she began her remarks.
A petition has been started asking University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke to open up the selection process.
"By signing this petition," it concludes, "we are putting the University of Baltimore on notice that no future or current alumni will donate any money to the university if they decide to keep this decision to bring her as the commencement speaker."